Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Opens [Print without images]

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Who's Classic-bound?

By David Hunter Jones
Bassmaster.com

CORNELIUS, N.C. -- In a tournament where ounces are paramount and big bites are hard to come by, there are perhaps three anglers who can challenge Fletcher Shryock for the win of the second Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on North Carolina's Lake Norman.

"They're there," Shryock said about the fish he's targeting today. "We may be at the dock by 11 o'clock or so today if they're biting."

Shryock's confidence is bolstered by the fact that he left his fish biting yesterday at 10 o'clock. But, this field won't let Shryock into his first Classic without a fight.

Tracy Adams, who spent the first two days sight fishing, has bailed on that plan and will scour the lake today looking to make up the 2-pound, 2-ounce deficit that stands between him and back-to-back Classic berths.

Adams plans on cranking this morning, trying to bang out a limit in short order, then flipping a jig around to cull. He said rain forecast for the area mid-morning and becoming steady through the afternoon might help his bite.

Brandon Card of Caryville, Ky., is also fishing confidently. He's 2-9 behind Shryock, but has a pattern dialed in that could pay off in a big way.

"I'm going to run a lot of water, I've kind of got a pattern going," he said. "I sight-fished Day One, then slowed down yesterday; I really put the brakes on and picked things apart."

With a big bite on Norman being 3-plus-pounds, a difference of more than that will be extra-tough to make up. Alvin Shaw and Gerald Swindle and the rest of the Top 12 are likely fishing to increase the amount of their checks today.

Weigh-in begins today at the Bass Pro Shops of Concord, N.C., 8181 Concord Mills Blvd., 28027; phone: 704-979-2200, and is free to attend.